Sunday, January 12, 2014

Researching Historical Facts with Charles Taylor

Title: Lakeside University Cover Up
Author Name: Charles A. Taylor

Author Bio: Dr. Charles “Chuck” Taylor, author, speaker and diversity expert is currently a professor in the school of education at a Midwestern college. Although he has written and edited over 10 books, this is his first novel. Chuck has also written a full-length children’s musical, a highly acclaimed documentary on the Milwaukee, Wisconsin civil rights movement and continues to serve as a national consultant to college campuses in the areas of racial diversity and inclusion. Please visit his website for additional information:

Author Links

Researching Historical facts for writing mysteries
By Charles Taylor

There are some novels that could only occur during a specific historical period and some contemporary novels that include ‘flash backs’ to an earlier period in time. If you wanted to write a mystery featuring the shrewdness of Sherlock Holmes or engage Walter Mosley’s hard-edged crime fighter Easy Rawlins you would want to place their stories in their proper settings. Both would require research to make sure you’re capturing their historical backdrop accurately. The clothes the characters wear, the food they eat, the houses they live in, the politics of the time-all these things must be historically accurate.
So where do you go to find the facts? How do you conduct historical research? While it depends on the type of story you’re writing about, here are some general tips that should assist you in fact-checking.
Use Primary sources when possible
Primary or original sources are documents and artifacts that originate in or closest to the period or idea being studied. This could be things like original photos, letters, interviews, personal diaries, news articles and the like. Historians are masters at finding primary sources. Although their books are considered secondary sources, in most cases they’ve already done your home work. For the most part you can feel confident using their sources. Museums are another great resource. They are literally depositories of primary source material. Some include replicas of houses, communities and relics from the past.

Make your local librarian your best friend
You can generally cut your research time in half by getting assistance from librarians including your local one, to the librarians who work in the Library of Conference. I was once researching a Juneteenth parade that was held in the early 1900s and wanted to know how the buggies were decorated. I called a librarian at the Institute of Texas Cultures and was able to locate an original photo of a buggy all decorated that I used in my book. I’ve used my State Historical Society library for many original photos and news articles. Although I am not a historical fiction writer it seems to me that librarians should be their best friend. Use their expertise to help you find what you need and be sure to thank them.

Leverage the assets of the internet
The good news is that we’re living in a time that allows us to access great resources online from the comfort of our homes. If you like researching and writing about the past you don’t need a degree in history or courses in research-you just need to know how to conduct a good search on your computer.
If you’re willing to devote the time and effort necessary to thoroughly research specific historical periods you can find the information you need to enrich your novel. But there’s more-you can even find books and articles on how to research historical facts-just Google it.
Keep in mind that the purpose of researching historical facts is to enhance your story. Most writers of historical fiction tend to be novelists first although there are a few historians who write great novels. You want to capture the reality of the period in an authentic way but it’s the story that will keep your readers’ interests. Historical novelists must master all the basics of good fiction just like contemporary novelists do. You still have to have a great plot; your characters have to be appealing and you must connect with your audience. If you use these tips it should make your research a little less difficult. Happy writing!
Dr. Taylor is the author of over a dozen books and publications. He is a professor and consultant to college campuses throughout the U.S. in the areas of diversity and inclusion. Please check out his website at:

Book Genre: Mystery Thriller
Publisher: Roar Enterprises, Inc.
Release Date: January, 2012

Book Description: A cross is burned in the yard of two black Lakeside University students. When campus
officials call the incident a harmless prank, both black and white student organizations, launch a series of protests to force the administration into conducting a full investigation.
Instead, the administration devises a divide and conquer scheme to create a rift between black and white students. Feel the tension mounting as the students react to the Administration’s response to the incident. As black students turn up the pressure, the campus stands on the verge of a racial explosion. Campus leaders must find a way out of the crisis so they seek the help of Dr. Wendell Oliver, the country’s leading expert in diffusing racial tension.
Watch Dr. Oliver as he masterfully guides the feuding students into looking beyond themselves on a weekend retreat that is filled with action, danger, sexual attraction, and racial conflict. Discover the hidden lessons that students learn about friendship, betrayal and forgiveness. Follow the love story as the plot unfolds. Experience this roller coaster ride of emotions for yourself! Learn the secret behind the cross burning as the leading character Gloria finds her voice.

Students come to realize that the cross burning is more than just about racism. Its wicked flames shed light on corrupt cops, complicit college administrators and misguided attitudes that point to a major cover up. When students finally piece the puzzle together, justice is served but it comes with a steep price. Lakeside University will never be the same again.

Excerpt One:

Enough was enough. Dean of Students, Todd Severson stormed into President David Horning’s office and slammed the door. “Sir, we need to do something!” Severson said, lowering himself into the chair across from Horning’s antique desk. “Your divide and conquer strategy is backfiring—we have to do something and do it fast, or this university will explode!”
President Horning glanced up from his coffee. “That’s a bit dramatic, Todd, don’t you think?”
Severson leaned forward in his chair and pressed his palms against the desktop. “A black student has just been attacked!” he said. “Classes are being disrupted. The police are running themselves ragged, trying to keep everything under control. Now we have threats of a major civil rights demonstration being held on our campus!”
Horning looked at Severson and frowned. “Why don’t you just calm down,” he said. “We’ve weathered crises before. This isn’t any different.”
Severson stared back, his jaw askew. “Sir, I beg to disagree! We may have been able to smooth things over in the past, but this is very different. This could turn violent—even more violent than it already has become. And it's just a matter of time before the media plasters this mess all over the front page.”
Before Horning could respond, his phone rang. As he reached to answer it, Severson stood to leave. “Hold on Todd. Let me get this. This might be the call that will get us out of this damn mess,” Horning said, as Severson paced the floor.

Three Weeks Earlier
It was a cool, cloudy Sunday night in early autumn. Two figures huddled in the shadows next to a small house, near the Lakeside University campus. They set to work quickly, and soon a sharp chemical odor drifted through the air.
“Man, this shit really stinks,” said the first one, muffling a cough in his gloved hand. “Are you sure this will work?”
“It has to,” said the second. “You heard what they said. We’ve got to take care of this tonight.” “Okay, okay,” said the first. “Just light the damn thing so I can make the call and we can get the hell out of here!”
Inside the small house, Lakeside University student Ashante Melashe was working on a recording for her broadcast engineering class. Just as she hit the record button, the shrill ring of the telephone echoed through the house. "Oh, no!” she moaned, “I forgot to turn off the ringer!” She pushed her chair back from the table. “Well, that’s another sound bite down the drain."
"I'm coming," she grumbled as the phone continued its loud summons. "Hello?"
"Look outside,” said a gruff, male voice. “You’ll see how we feel about niggers at Lakeside University."
"What did you just say? Who is this?"
"Just look outside, bitch."
“Is this some kind of joke?” Ashante asked, but the only answer was the dial tone.
Shaking her head in disgust, she took a deep breath and stepped out into the front yard. The shock of the flames sucked the air from her lungs in a choked gasp. A strange smell burned her eyes and throat. She stood frozen, glaring at the blaze of bright red and orange fire burning against the cold, black starless night.
Then the realization hit her with as much force as if someone had kicked her in the stomach. Suddenly she knew what she was staring at: a huge cross, whose wicked flames lit up the yard and filled her with soul wrenching horror.

 "Oh, my God," Ashante whispered. 


Burt Morgret said...

Thank you for hosting today:)

Wendi said...

Great post!

Brooke Bumgardner said...

Thank you for sharing this great post! Enjoy your tour, Charles!

Brooke - Pit Crew